Most developers say they want an "instant landmark," but then loose their nerve—the result is often a half-baked building that happens to have a name-brand architect attached. Not so with the Melbourne Recital Center and Theater Company, two adjacent buildings designed by ARM. The undeniably kooky designs—which are a lynchpin in the revitalization of Melbourne's gritty Southbank district—have just won the 2009 Victorian Architecture medal, which goes to the region's best building of the year, as judged by the Royal Australian Insitute of Architects. In September, it'll go up again other regional winners, for the title of Australia's best building.
The complex includes five performance spaces, among them a 1,000-seat music hall and a 500-seat theater, which anchor the Recital Center and Theater Company, respectively. The overriding idea was to create a building with the 2-D punch of a bold piece of graphic art, as well as a rich, 3-D interior. As ARM says in it's Web site tagline, the results are "not for everyone." We wonder: Blighted as parts of Melbourne might be, how well has the building gone over with residents? Is it better to be utterly bold and ferociously loved by a few, or more restrained—and more superficially adored?
The Center's music hall is lined in acoustical paneling that has been textured by computerized milling:
The theater, meanwhile, is in no danger of getting overshadowed—and its design vernacular clearly demarcates it from its neighbor, the recital hall: